The Memory of Love

‘The Memory of Love’ is a beautiful novel by Aminatta Forna. I read this in June.

I absolutely love it, and it’s definitely a new favourite. I learnt so much, I had to stop and think about the many points, it made me feel really grateful that I can read, and even more grateful & so happy that I enjoy reading. When was the last time a book made you feel this way? Seriously. I love you Aminatta, and I’m coming for everything you’ve ever written!

The novel tells the story of the Sierra Leonean Civil war and the ugly aftermath of it, through the ordinary (sometimes not so ordinary) simple lives of the characters.

This solid story tells some hard truths. A lot of us are not guilty of looting reserve accounts, or taking chunks of “the national cake”. It’s easy to point fingers at the people up there, but the consequences of being passive and keeping quiet, not taking any real action are just as severe. She also addresses the Saviour complex that a lot of foreigners come to Africa with, and places side by side, the way they see things, and how things really are. Ms Forna is half Sierra Leonean and half English, so I think she brings this to bear in accurately comparing the two different perspectives.

The main narrative is in the voices of Adrian, an English psychiatrist working in the country, and a dying man Elias Cole. Still, you get to hear the stories of dashing doctor Kai Mansaray, the quiet & fiesty Mamakay and the other characters who make this story. The individual stories are so good, at some point I was wondering “What’s up? How do these go together?” and at the right time, bam- all the dots connected.

Particularly interesting is how mental health, a subject largely ignored in these parts, is explored. But what I love most about this book is that they stay. By they, I mean, Kai stays. Tejani comes home. Mamakay wants to stay and even Adrian almost does. The Sierra Leoneans remain in Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone is their happy ending.

We may wander, we may explore but Africa is ours and I’m convinced that the solutions to our problems lie with us. It’s not easy to love a place that has not given you plenty. A place where a lot of dreams just evaporate. It’s a little crazy to want to live and die in a world where a common thing like having a baby is so bluddy risky, where people die senseless, totally avoidable as Sefi Atta calls them “African deaths”. This is even more difficult when you know better conditions await you elsewhere, especially when you aren’t just looking for any green pastures to latch onto, but there are places where your energy and your talents would be more than welcome; there are actually opportunities for you to thrive.

It’s not that simple I know, and I also know that a lot is easier said than done, but whatever the medicine is, we are the ones that have it. Only we can fix our failed and failing countries. It’s not easy, but I think the best thing to do (probably not for ourselves or our offspring, but the best thing to do for our countries’ sakes) is to come back, is to stay. And be fully, actively present.

I enjoyed the mental journey to Sierra Leone, holding on to the details in their stories, even the character I did not like at first, Mr. Elias Cole. I really must visit Sierra Leone someday. I can see it, so beautiful in my head. 🙂 It’s a West African country, so I don’t need a visa. Can’t think of any reason why this journey won’t eventually happen.

This is a brilliant book and the author, an excellent story teller. I love to talk hair, but more than this, I love to read. And since I don’t feel like talking hair today, I’m doing this instead. 🙂

Currently, I’m reading Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and On Black Sisters’ Street by Chika Unigwe.

What are you reading right now? What’s the best book you’ve read in a while? Any thoughts on this review?





22 thoughts on “The Memory of Love

  1. Hi,

    Thanks for the recommendation. I have just reserved this book at my local library. My favourite books this year is by Khaled Hosseini, i have read two of his books – kite runner and a thousand splendid suns.



  2. I like reading or I used to like reading. But when you work in a bank on the island in Lagos and live on the mainland, the daily traffic makes it almost impossible to do anything but sleep when you get home. I know I really shouldnt be making excuses but……..
    AB, please any ideas on where I can buy dem books?? Plus I lauve your blog.


  3. I’m currently reading John Green’s Will Grayson, Will Grayson, Chika Unigwe’s On Black Sisters’ Street and The Alchemist

    The best book I’ve read in a while is Looking For Alaska


  4. Loved the review! Will definitely be buying the book soon. I’m reading Teju Cole’s Every day is for the thief, Arundati Roy’s The god of small things and Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of maladies.

    The best book I’ve read in a while would have to be “Every day is for the thief”.


  5. I need to purchase this! It’s been on my to-read list for a while. “One Day I Will Write About This Place” by Binyavanga Wainaia is the best book I’ve read thus far, this year. Its pretty awesome.


  6. Sounds like just what I would enjoy. Aren’t books awesome? I’m currently reading Jeffrey Archer’s As The Crow Flies. I love my African books and I’m on the lookout for the next great one. One that will always be special to me is Elechi Amadi’s The Concubine.


  7. Adding this to my wishlist sharp sharp and taking note of those mentioned in the comments as well. Just finished reading “Fine Boys” by Eghosa Imasuen right before I read this blog post. Don’t know what I’ll be reading next but most likely “Foreign Gods Inc” by I’ve forgotten the author


  8. Hi Ekene,

    You probably don’t remember me but i was at louisville for a year before i moved to Ldn. I discovered your blog a month ago and i have to say as someone who has recently gone natural i absolutely love the whole message of your blog…love reading too so very happy to have these recommended…keep up the good work..
    Its Joy btw…i was in Bautain house you were in louise and marilyn was in therese house…i doubt ypu remember me but wanted to say loveeee your blog x


  9. do you buy hard copies of all the books you read?
    do you know about any app I could buy any of these books on?
    I really need to start reading again but hard copies, so not for me.
    thanks for this review.


  10. Pingback: Hello 2015! We Are Back! :) | The Kink And I

  11. Pingback: Book Review: Year of Yes | The Kink And I

You say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s